Starting today, the Khronos Group’s Vulkan API wants to change OpenGL for the better

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After serving as the standard since shortly after its release in 1992, Silicon Graphics’ OpenGL API has been responsible for some of the sleekest looking gaming experiences across any number of platforms. Unfortunately, given its age, it’s also been the source of some fairly hefty criticism when compared to Microsoft’s frequently revised DirectX and Apple’s recently implemented Metal APIs.

That’s where the Khronos Group comes in. After obtaining the OpenGL standard back in 2006, the company has been hard at work on contriving a low-level successor that works in conjunction with the antiquated API.

Vulkan, which we initially reported on last year when it arrived to Android, has finally emerged out of beta, complete with a version 1.0 naming convention. Additionally, it now boasts support for any GPU featuring OpenGL ES 3.1 or 4.x and running Windows XP or newer, SteamOS, Ubuntu, Red Hat, Tizen, and Android.

Based on AMD’s Mantle low-overhead graphics API, Khronos proclaims that Vulkan will make it possible for developers to take advantage of the GPU in conjunction with several CPU cores. Notably, the company points out that while that isn’t impossible in current OpenGL builds, it’s far from easy to accomplish.

Furthermore, Vulkan will reportedly add “simpler, more predictable drivers” in addition to streamlining portability between platforms.

However, as Nvidia VP and Khronos Group president Neil Trevett adds, the objective of Vulkan isn’t to replace OpenGL as much as it is to improve it. Instead, he claims, Vulkan “provides another choice for developers,” clarifying that “In the right hands, Vulkan’s multi-threading and explicit resource management can enable a new class of smooth, high-performance engines and applications.”

If you want to experience the difference in Vulkan for yourself, apparently The Talos Principle from Croteam will be one of the first games to bear support for the API, albeit senior programmer Dean Sekulic has been dubious when asked about a release window for the patch.

We can likely expect to find out more about Vulkan in the coming month as the Game Developers Conference swiftly approaches.

BitTorrent launches new subscription tier that removes ads from uTorrent

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Tired of seeing ads on uTorrent? There’s now another solution to eliminate them but of course, it’ll cost you (just not as much as before).

Following a brief beta stint, BitTorrent has rolled out an annual subscription servicethat’ll eliminate ads from uTorrent. It’s priced at $4.95 per year but unlike the existing Pro tier, it doesn’t include any other benefits.

The $19.95 / year Pro tier provides automatic virus and malware protection and premium customer support. Subscribers can also convert downloads to play on any device and stream torrents instantly. All of this is in addition to eliminating ads.

In a blog post announcing the new tier, the uTorrent team said they accept multiple forms of payment including credit card and PayPal. Once the transaction is complete, you’ll receive a confirmation e-mail and can then either install via the Bundle Installer link to get an executable file or click the Personal License Key link to get a file that you can drag into your existing client for an automatic update.

uTorrent was originally launched in 2005 by Ludvig Strigeus who sold it to BitTorrent, Inc. roughly a year later. Last April, the company said it surpassed the 100 million download mark on mobile devices alone. Older data from 2012 placed the number of monthly users at 150 million, a figure that has no doubt swelled considerably since that time.

Microsoft introduces more Windows 10 lock screen ads, but removing them is easy

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Microsoft may have allowed users of its popular operating systems to upgrade to Windows 10 for free last year, but the company hasn’t hidden the fact that it will use various methods to monetize the platform. In April 2015, the Redmond firm revealedthat one way it would do this is by placing ads on the Windows lock screen, and now it has made good on this promise, as several users have reported seeing Rise of the Tomb Raider ads appearing on their devices.

The full-screen advertisements ask users to “Discover the legend within,” by purchasing the second game in the rebooted Lara Croft series from Microsoft’s Windows Store. The ads were initially reported by How-To Geek’s Chris Stobing, as well as several Reddit users.

Luckily, disabling the ads is very simple. Simply go to Settings > Personalization > Lock Screen and uncheck the box that reads:“Get fun facts, tips, tricks and more on your lock screen.” Note that this is the way to avoid ads if you have ‘Picture’ or ‘Slideshow’ selected for the ‘Background’ setting. Anyone using the Windows Spotlight feature, which shows images from Bing and certain running Windows apps, will see the advertisements.

This isn’t the first instance of Windows offering up these ads; last month, several userscomplained that they found a promotion for the Minions movie had appeared on their lock screens, which also included a link to the Windows Store for anyone wishing to buy the animated box-office hit.

While lock screen ads may be an annoyance to many people, at least Microsoft has made receiving them optional. Hopefully, the company won’t ramp up this method of monetizing Windows 10 by pushing out more invasive ads and make opting out more difficult – or even impossible.

Android for desktop fork “Remix OS” gets 32-bit support, OTA updates and more

A company called Jide has been working on a desktop-optimized fork of Android for a little over a year now. After Kickstarting a tablet running its custom software in March 2015 and later following with a small set-top box, the company now plans to release itsRemix OS for free for anyone to install and use on an x86 computer.

Remix OS brings PC productivity features such as multiple floating windows, advanced file manager, and true mouse and keyboard support. It has a start menu where users can access installed programs, and a notification tray that swipes in from the side.

The Alpha release of Remix OS was actually released last month, but with the new public Beta coming on March 1, the company is bringing a substantial amount of improvements and bug fixes. Chief among them is adding support for 32-bit machines, which means you’ll be able to repurpose that old laptop or PC to run a productivity-oriented version of Android.

Other new features include a new hard drive installer that allows for dual-booting of Remix OS with your other main operating system, and OTA updates, allowing Jide to release updates that you can download over the internet and install without losing data.

The a wealth of apps available for Android open up the potential of Remix OS in a meaningful way that Chrome OS extensions and apps can’t match at this point. But there’s still one key feature that’s missing from Remix OS for PC: the Google Play Store. The company says it’s currently in talks with Google for certification to have official access to the Google Play Store and Services — in the meantime you can still sideload them onto your Remix OS device.

Another thing worth keeping in mind is that the user experience varies greatly from app to app depending if they’ve been designed to run only on phones or phones and tablets. If it’s the former apps may not play as well unless you keep the window down to a phone-like shape and size.

Last week we reported on another company that’s working on a solution to repurpose old PCs, only using Chrome OS instead of Android.